Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C.S. Pacat

by Kristen D · 10 Feb 2016
Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C.S. Pacat
I’m a speed reader and always have been. I’m not one of those people that wax poetic about language use all that often, despite my love of the written word. I’m usually more interested in an author’s ability to tell a story than their deployment of the words themselves. However, I do love when authors make me pause. And in this book, C.J. Pacat grabs me by the scruff of the neck, sits me down next to her and whispers “slow down, woman. Sloooow down.”

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I spent the last two weeks reading about this world. I marathoned the first two books (Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit in preparation for this book. I found myself falling down internet rabbit holes of reviews about Pacat’s work and I have loved every minute I spent there. This is the first book in a while that I have wrapped myself in, which is why I’ve started pressing this book into the metaphorical hands of anyone who is open to fantasy and saying “You must read this.”

For anyone who doesn’t know, Captive Prince started out as a self­published internet serial. It’s one of those success stories that so many who write on the internet surely hope for; so many people read the story and became so obsessed with it that mainstream publishing had to sit up and take notice.

If you have not read this series, you cannot, I repeat CANNOT, jump in at any point. This is a sweeping epic in all senses of that word and not only will you be largely lost, but you will do yourself and the story a disservice.

The premise of the whole series is thus: Damen and Laurent are rulers of historically opposing Kingdoms. Through machinations of evil, Damen is kidnapped and sold to Laurent as his slave. Same­sex slavery, with the assumption of sexual servitude, is a key part of the social fabric of Laurent’s kingdom, but is one Damen’s kingdom judges them for. So in this book, when Damen is returned to his people and placed in a position to rule them again, the fact that he publicly proclaims he did sleep with Laurent is an issue which must be navigated. Can they overcome that, and unite their loyal followers against usurpers of evil who seek to destroy not only Damen and Laurent individually but the Kingdoms they both so love? (Answer: I’m comfortable classifying this as a romance, complete with happily ever after, so safe to assume yes.)

As with the other two pieces of Pacat’s series, those dynamics are navigated simultaneously with nuance and flair. She doesn’t spend a whole lot of her words describing settings to you, or to tell you in intimate detail about the fabric or the feast like many other fantasy writers do. Instead, Pascat turns her considerable talents to the description of the characters. We spend most of the time in Damen’s perspective, but this book dips briefly into Laurent’s as well.

The characters are layered and rich, and as the story unfolds to reveal more intrigue and finally reaches its wonderful climax, I hugged my iPad to me and thanked Pascat silently for this journey.

This was my first M/M fictional foray. I have mentioned in other reviews that I’m committed to diversifying my reading in 2016 and so when offered the chance to do that in a way that would open up new sexual pairings to me I jumped on it. I had some apprehension, as anyone would when reading something new, but I could not have picked a better first piece. Laurent and Damen’s romance is based in the cores of their being. While it may appear based entirely in the physical at first (Damen is a slave after all), the more you read, the more you realize it was always a soul connection that they’ve both made brave and bold choices to pursue.

I recognize that M/M isn’t for everyone and neither is fantasy. However, if you’re open to worlds unlike your own and willing to slog through some battle scenes I just didn’t super care about, you’ll be rewarded with a cunning political drama up to the caliber of anything on HBO, with a romance to rival anything you’ve ever read. Highly recommended and I cannot wait to see where Pacat takes us next.

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